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tv   The Civil War  CSPAN  December 12, 2015 6:00pm-7:17pm EST

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democracy where we as citizens but youl participants, have a system where members of congress spent 30% to 70% of with the interest of that tiny fractional 1%. that basicystem quality is denied. weekend book tv all every weekend on c-span2. during the civil war, an unprecedented number of american soldiers were killed in battle. conventional practices of body were notdy recovery able to keep up with the growing number of fallen soldiers. kirk savage gives an in-depth analysis of the practices adopted to identify fallen soldiers and the types of burials given to fallen soldiers. the national gallery hosted this 90 minute top.
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everyone invage: this room has probably had the experience of wandering through an older u.s. city and stumbling into the beguiling section of a rural cemetery. with its vast collection of gravestones and tombs and miniature temples interspersed among rolling hills, woods, and dale's. -- dales. it is an outdoor museum in more ways than one. it was a striking difference. the object that surround us here in this beautiful museum are lovingly and superbly conserved as if they were all made yesterday or teleported a regular from every age of the past into our present. even in the greatest rural cemeteries like this one, the allegheny cemetery in pittsburgh, the passage and pressure of time are everywhere visible. coatesidues of past eras
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the graves and factory smoke and coal dust. the stone and metal erode. sometimes fall into the ground. by the way, this is not what every grade in the elegant -- what every grave in the allegheny cemetery looks like. images dissolve before our eyes and the names of the dead, the whole reason for this above ground apparatus, even these often disappear. as oliver wendell holmes wrote about his local graveyard in cambridge, massachusetts -- it slowly disappears. the mosses creek, the reep,stones -- the mosses c the gravestones lean. the decaying gravestones have
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age value. triggering metaphysical ruminations. the cemetery, the age value a needith a conflict of to remember and preserve and keep the name alive as the ancient egyptians used to say. preserve theve to name is the foundation of mortuary culture. in the midst of this rural cemetery, and its picturesque decay, is a radically different landscape. field occupied by nearly identical clean white headstones set of right to uniform height and perfectly -- in perfectly aligned rows. -- aroundry around to it seems haphazard. this is in the flats. it is a more regulated and uniform landscape.
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the gleaming marble stones catch is rounding like an throw into sharp relief the raised letters of the name which as it soon becomes apparent is the defining focus of this installation. in the center of the plot of 300 sandstonean eroding were memorial from the 1870's. a monument to the union debt complete with standing soldiers overseen by a female allegory looking at only and dictate even though it post date the layout of the plot and most of the graves within it. the civil war, soldier monuments and cemetery sprung up for the first time in the united states and even in the euro american worlds. even though there was no shortage of earlier war dead from the always violent american past. lmes wrote about his own church wrote in the 1830's --
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the sabres thirsting edge, the hot shell falling. -- here is scattered death. to leave theirt children free. despite that amazing image of the ground beneath him. bodies punctured and shattered by war, the traces of that become convinced -- invisible and even unwanted in the relatively brief time of peace in which he wrote. the true monument to the war dead he got resided invisibly in that state of freedom that the war dead had supposedly secured. this anti-monumental sentiment fell on deaf years -- deaf years after the civil war when
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monuments spread across the land from battlefield to hometowns. when i rediscovered allegheny plot, i and its soldier was struck anew by the disparity between the monument and the graves. their design and arrangement appearing so much at odds with the edge of a good memorial in the center and with the aging eras from various scattered nearby. i learned that the monument was a homegrown undertaking sponsored by a local ladies memorial association. the plot itself was a federally owned soldiers lots. a federal cemetery within a municipal one. it is one of 22 such soldiers lots in the national cemetery system. of course, there are soldier it cemetery like antietam and so on. these particular soldier lots are smaller lots within a larger cemetery and usually with any
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municipal cemetery. the -- it is one of 22 lots of the national cemetery system that was born in the civil war. the first instance in the modern systematicallyon assuming responsibility for its soldier dead. while there were presidents for this system in the ancient world, the best-known being the cemetery in athens where the cremated remains of soldiers who had died abroad were brought back for collective burial. promised itssystem war dead individual burial of intact bodies although -- intact bodies. a logistical goal of profound proportions. the federal soldier lot in allegheny cemetery is about 50 yards away from another soldier lot often confused with it. tos second lot once belonged the most powerful civic
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association and the united states. the union veterans organization called the grand army of the republic. in his heyday, this burial ground here was larger and far more popular and prestigious than the government locked. it also is arrayed in the straight rows but the headstones, originally upright have been pushed over into the ground. the stone turned gray. the names in most cases unreadable. the first plot looked almost magically untouched by time. the second, so degraded by time that it has lost even its age value and is now a near wreck, disappearing into the crowd with the bodies it is supposed to commemorate. these of striking disparities are systematic of a much larger problem, i will call it a meditative crisis of the war dead. sensetive in the broadest
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is they about data. more specifically, metadata as it turned that librarians and catalogers used to refer to various categories of information such as name, title, and date. they describe and identify objects like books and artworks that are rich in information. metadata is the foundation of our history. without all of the elaborate procedures devised to date artworks, art history would be impossible. metadata must be attached to its objects in some way, typically in the form of a label or a barcode or a mark stamped or cast were written directly on the object. gone through a collection of old family photographs of long dead ancestors has probably had the experience of turning over an unknown image hoping to find some sort of metadata handwritten on the back.
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a mere surname or set of initials can not only identify a face, but unlock an entire life story. in this case, by turning over the back, my wife and i were able to discover that this photo was taken by one of the most famous postwar photographers in gettysburg. headstones,s, headboards inscribed rocks are among the most ancient culturally significant forms of metadata. both the national cemetery system and the proliferation of war memorials were responses to a metadata crisis, not unlike the tamil of the forgotten amalie rotorcraft. but intensified at a shocking scale. crisis was quite simply the separation of names from bodies. repeated endlessly and everywhere. it was not merely a logistical crisis, but an identity crisis
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that rippled through families and communities and polities alike. alive orhe name keeping the name in place, a slightly different formulations that what -- that i will explain a just a moment was a cultural problem, a technological problem and an artistic problem all wrapped in one of enormous undertaking. i hope to history show offers some unique insights into this multifaceted undertaking that reshaped the nation in ways we have not yet fully grasp. .- grasped during the civil war itself, the names of the dead seemed ever essence. . by telegraph and news media, into homes everywhere. bodies andom their from the horrible realities of warfare, these names settled into alphabetized list arrayed in columns like the passenger
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manifest from ships in port or the dead letter list from the post office. quote, we see the list in the morning paper at breakfast but dismissed its recollection with a copy commented the new york times after a horrific battle of antietam in 1862. i will go on to quote this at length. there is a confused mass of names that they are all strangers. we forget the horrible significant that dwells amid the jumble of type. each of these little names of the printer has struck off so lightly last night whistling over his work and that we speak with a clip of the time represents a bleeding, mingled corks. corpse.led it will fall upon some heart straining it to breaking.
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there is nothing very terrible to us in the list although our sensations might be different if the newspaper carrier left the names on the battlefield and the bodies at our door instead. could spend the entire evening talking about this one paragraph. with his modernist recognition of the numbing affect of mass media. and with this strange juxtaposition of the remorseless weight of debt with a lighthearted routine of the printer who strikes off the name of death's latest victim. his alienated labor so different from the elaborate ritual of a funeral or the arduous craft of carving the same letters into a tombstone. and then, and even more striking is this junction. the detachment of names from bodies. our sensations might be different if this newspaper carrier left of the bodies at our doorstep and -- instead.
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what a remarkable idea. they came to the writer because she or he had experienced for the first time the new technology of battlefield photography. particularly, an exhibition of the grizzly corpses taken on the battlefield of antietam and displayed in matthew brady's gallery in new york. if we understand all that is implied, the junctions multiply in a dizzying sequence. the names of these courses past names -- through the through the fingers of this printer. meanwhile, the bodies themselves were dumped in a massive trench on a farm in maryland. images, and bodies all moved in different directions and mostly amongst strangers.
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during the civil war, these new print an image technologies combined with concentrated mass warfare to exacerbate an already be will during metadata crisis. century was not supposed to end this way. in a disrupted burial far from family and community. for slaves, poppers, and criminals, such disruptions were commonplace. white citizens and their families expected the privilege of a so-called good depth at home and a properly marked grave registered in a cemetery. for these more privileged members of society, the civil war came as a profound shock. as scholars such as through griffin has taught us. christian doctrine of resurrection did offer real consolation by promising the bodies return no matter what displacement it had indoor in life and death.
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this promise of return in the hereafter did not by any means of eliminating the overwhelming need of families, communities, and the nation itself to stay connected in the here and now to the bodies and names and identities of the dead. as one grieving woman wrote in -- what65, oh would could i say, from the bottom of my soul, and will be done but i fear i never can. she was talking about her beloved who had died and been buried by her. in this gaply between god's perfect world and the future and the tragic world of the here and now that art and technology work. meeting the pressing needs of the wars survivors. the problem posed by the warden was a problem of displacement, of death out of waste. unprecedented in u.s.
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history, the civil war led to a massive physical displacement of bodies in life-and-death. a soldier off of a farm in the middle of the country might die on a battlefield in virginia or a prison camp in georgia or a hospital here in washington. thehattering as circumstances were, they were often compounded by a second displacement. a metaphysical displacement of the body from its name. in literally hundreds of thousands of cases, soldiers became unknown or missing. the unknown were bodies that had lost their names. the missing were names that had lost their bodies. in both cases, the metadata, the name had become attached from its object, the body. these at legions of the unknown and the same coin. the metadata crisis created by protracted mass warfare between
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armies totally unprepared for human disaster on this scale. -- science of this crisis the signs of this crisis were dealt with in sermons, editorials, and graveyards. families, contractors, and philanthropic agencies all made unprecedented efforts to find bodies and reconnect them with names. in the weeks and months after gettysburg, for example, the battlefield was overrun with people searching through gravesites, sometimes opening up graves and rummaging through personal effects that had already been picked over by enemy soldiers or civilian passengers. they were in search of any object that might yield identifying information, a letter, a small bible, or a family photograph tucked into a pocket. you have to remember this was -- a dogtagsogtags
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system that was in place that could guarantee the identity of the dead. war, the federal army set in motion a vast enterprise war for the theater of bodies. while the legendary nurse, clara barton established an office of correspondence with the friends of the missing men of the united states army, and received over 63,000 letters in wiring after loss to men. such asle organization the christian commission financed trips to makeshift cemeteries in prison camps and they copiedwhere metadata from wooden headboards and published it in long list of given in theks order in which they live. these people and agencies were racing against the destructive effects of time. when graves were marked, the fragile wooden headboards weekly decayed and the marks on them
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often and pencil faded away. in other cases, the headboards disappeared were found somewhere else attached from their graves and a label without an object. in the cemetery for union soldiers who died at richmond's prison, less than one in 20 were marked. the remaining headboards had been taken by poor people in the neighborhood and incinerated to heat their homes. headboards like the bodies which they marked decomposed and were lost. for this reason, samuel weaver, a contractor hired to identify and three buried bodies in the gettysburg area several months after the battle, made a point of mailing headboards at once as he said to their new coffins so that headboard and body would never be separated again. this was not enough. he also wrote the name, regiment, and company of the
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soldier on the coffin itself and numbered the coffin. he recorded all of that data in a book that he kept with them. you can see him holding it in his hands. he later copied the names and numbers to a master register. little imagery of this massive national campaign to synchronize the word that with their names understandably, because the process was so abstract, and so monday, metaphysical in its reach and details, timothy o'sullivan's photo of disrupted confederate burial at gettysburg are some of the few images that open insight into this process. these are among a handful of photographs produced during the war that show the wooden headboards made by soldiers, sharply enough to read the lettering under magnification. in this case, the glass plate negatives which survived enables
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us to identify the soldier on the far left with either characters of metadata. s on the top line. it is amazing first of all the dead soldiers comrades took the time, on the second day of the battle before the battle had theluded, that they took time during the deadliest battle of the civil war, while the outcome was still undecided to do their best to imitate tombstone parking by carefully in sizing and beveling the honorific fonts into the board. they did not have the time to carve the holding that they did not need to because the three initials and the military shorthand were just enough data to point to an actual individual. w sligh of the third
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south carolina infantry company e. perhaps most remarkable of all, we have a memoir written by a fellow soldier where this individual body identified by five here cares comes back to life in a flood of words. he resurfaces in the memoir is a bright, young college student who left a school and became a favorite with the troops. wiki and always kind. but rather girlish in appearance for physically, he was not strong. to quote from the memoir. or this reason, the memoir explains, the officers took pity on him and assigned him to duties in the rear, away from combat. and he got to gettysburg, he burst into tears and that to be allowed to prove his manhood in battle. 2, 1863, this witty, kind, teary-eyed relish young
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through a peach orchard into a hail of bullets and i defending the confederate nations cause. -- the right of property and negroes slaves. the headboardn survived several exclamations and removals and ended up in revised form on an elaborately carved gravestone in magnolia cemetery in charleston, south carolina. where his body was relocated in 1871 through the efforts of the ladies memorial association of charleston. the charleston group was one of the best-known among many elite white women associations organized to care for confederate graves and bring back the bodies of confederate soldiers to southern soil. his body is in a collective
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grave of some nine bodies, no doubt because the remains of the men became intermingled during reburial by a farmer at gettysburg. tombstone, hea becomes an officer, a sergeant which he never was in reality. and ironically, due to a miss transcription, his name acquires a t becoming slights. a relief sculpture by an unknown stone carver relies on a traditional pictorial of resurrection with a winged female figure standing in for the ladies association, crowning with loral reclining figure of a dying officer. his status identified why his sword. in this gender binary, it is the female figure in the ladies she represents who have the agency and the male figure who has lost it. up here and reversal
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lies the reestablishment of traditional hierarchy since the pose of the dying man unmistakably evokes the definition of christ and in turn the soldiers christian sacrifice and ultimate redemption for the cause of white supremacy. now, it is almost impossible to gaze on his gravestone without emmanuel amet the church massacre that took place in june, only five miles from this great. -- from this grave. nativeore him to his land in a place of honor, the ladies of charleston had to go beyond simply keeping his name alive which they almost failed to do because of the misspelling. they had to put his name back in place, and the place of his body. cemetery, the metadata above ground stands on its own while belowground, the body that data described falls apart silently and invisibly.
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the ladies tombstone took his power and authority from the implied presence of his body belowground. at the same time, the stone a racist has personal life story and very fit between -- beneath their own narrative. his name and his life were consumed either his death. and by the new place his death research for him in the confederate cemetery. art history offers us a way of describing and understanding this process of replacement. with a do so in dialogue history that is quite literally from below. the distinctive life stories that are buried beneath the and are represented above. if we ignore the stories below the names, we will never understand the deal your power of the soldiers cemetery that
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shape individual lives and remake the larger collective narrative. that should become clearer as we move away from the conventionalized gravestone imagery exemplified in this tombstone to the severe minimalist vocab you very federal soldiers cemetery where the highly uniform arrangements and stripped-down headstones create the appearance of an unsentimental egalitarian functional metadata. even here, perhaps especially here, there is a powerful artistry at work which frames and ultimately obscures, which refrains and ultimately obscures the messy, human history below. in allegheny cemetery looks like a miniature version of arlington national cemetery and does share certain distinctive design features. like arlington, the lot is so
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beautifully maintained that it seems to exist outside of time or in an eternal presence. when i first saw the shimmering marble gravestones, i was amazed at their state of preservation until i realized that they had been replaced, probably multiple times in the same style so that their age would not show. across of assembled an original federal gravestone. probably dating to around 1910 in a very old defunct cemetery, dripping with age value. it's great cracked surface slowly being covered by algae and lichen. and the lettering of the name disappearing to erosion. the remarkable aspects of the national cemetery system is that it reached into obscure little graveyards like this one all across the united dates. the system -- united states. the survivors, the
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veterans who became eligible for standard issue federal headstone no matter when or where they were very. -- buried. powell's headstone now finds itself in the shadow of a railroad line near one of u.s. steel's last working plants in pennsylvania. if powell's stone seems displaced by industrializeation and abandonment, the graves in the lot seem much more in their proper place even though, ironically, the men had much less connection to their place than powell had to his. they carry this kind of presence not only because they're in better condition, but because they belong to a
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collectionive of soldiers with a very strong, visible organization. from first glance their collective layout might pear to becomes but soon apatient. here the stones are aligned in one way, basically north and south. yet that one directional alignment takes the form of perfect rows just like in soldiers in classic 19th century practice. handbooks of tactics from the civil war era made a fetish of alignment. they present incredibly minute instructions for how to discipline bodies so they can step into precise lines, elbow to elbow, without turning their heads or shifting their shoulders. agrams map out the
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complicated maneuvers by which various groups of man were supposed to pivot themselves into these long lines. it seems obvious that this are was a platonic ideal imposed on the tchootic reality of bodies in combat. in the same way, the layout in order etery plot imposed decompogs.ity of the geese were competing with me as i i was out photographing that morning the the earth, which in the cemetery was usually ground and uneven, had to be ground and leveled. to make a perfectly straight
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row rider plan arity. in recent years the stones have been set into gravel, as you see here, so they will settle evenly at the same height and grass whether not stain them. if it took a keen architect you are ool craftsmanship to align the stones, it's also taken work to keep them that way, to eep the unruly landscape surrounding the graves from interfering with their manmade displiven the other organizing principle of the graves is uniformity and here the disciplining of stones becomes crucial. just as the nation needed a mass army of men, the government in charge of burying those men needed a mass production of gravestones. the old artisanal system of hand carving gravestones in small shops would not do when literally hundreds of thousands of gravestones were need across the national cemetery system.
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in the 1870's, a new mass production system had to be invented out of whole cloth. standardization and minimalism were necessary to make the new system work. mar data included on the gravestone, the more time-consumer -- consuming its are as n would be the in the wooden head boards carved hastily on the battle field, only a minimal number of characters could be accommodated in the sandblasting process pioneered for the head stones. it was hollowed out and glued to the surface of the stone, which was then sandblasted -- sandblasted, leaving the letters in high relief the a simple motive -- motif cailingt
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that the soldier was a defender of the nation. that was all the process would allow. if the process appeared to be alitarian, literally blastag way distinctions of rank, it also blasted away much of history. in the allegheny soldiers' lot, about 2/3 of the graves are civil war soldiers but there is nothing to distinguish them from soldiers of earlier wars who are also in the lot or to distinguish the wartime dead from survivors who died later. the grave of a soldier who fought in the war that ended slavery, vernon johnstone, as you see here on the left, lies next to the remains of a soldier, william blakely, who died in mexico in a war to expand the territory of slavery. yet their headstones give no indication of this.
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a half dozen con federates who died in pittsburgh as prisoners of war were gur -- buried within the lot next to union soldiers. in the shadow of a union war memorial. not until 1907 did they get a headstone marked with the initials c.s.a., and this one for alfred alcorn. his story is particular lay maysing because he was a prisoner of war who was en route from one prison in ohio to another one in maryland and he jumped the train in pittsburgh and died of head injuries. that's why he ended up here. in the soldier lot, causes do not register. neither the moral cause for which the men died, nor their physical causes of death. here they are all unified in
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one organization and one cause. the cause of the nation. only in the 20th superior when the lot was reaching capacity did the metadata begin to expand as death dates and names began to appear on the newer gravestones. 's as if the curators of a museum made the radical decision to remove the dates from their objects' labels as in -- if to make a comment about the universality of all art the we should think of the sonal lot then as a heavily curated installation where many aspects of design and interpret tation come together to erase personal and political history. the lot thrives on a strong collective organization of the dead across more than a century wars, on systematic
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maintenance to keep the effects of time at bay and on a near total absence of metadata. it's not surprising that intellectuals would come to plever this -- prefer this are method compared to the hodgepodge that the world had budget. the soldier sterment did innovate a new kind of artistry, profoundly selective and seductive in its preference for order and common purpose. history from below, however, reveals an alternate reality that belies the seduction of the stambove. that history must start with the lot itself, which it turns out has its own complicated and checkered story. the sonal lot at allegheny cemetery seemingly began in 19
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-- 1862 with a simple mission to bury, free of expense, according to its board, such persons as have died or may die in defense of our country in the present war. the reality of the lot is far more complex, however, starting with the fact that very few men buried there actually fit that description. 10 years oofert -- after the lot was established, only about 200 men had been buried in it, while hundreds of other civil the same s occupied cemetery in family plots or elsewhere. so we have about 200 soldiers in the soldier lot and up to 1,000 other civil war soldiers elsewhere in the cemetery. why did these 200 end up in this soldier lot? where did they come from? when i started the project, i imagined them as western
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pennsylvaniaians who had died in the field in tennessee or virginia and had their remains brought home as thomas sligh's were to south carolina or the athenians' were to athens. in fact less than a 10th of the civil war dead in the soldier lot died in the field of battle injuries. the rest of them, like most of them lost throughout the war, died of dearkss a result of oor sanitation, overexposure or simply contagion. these were not the relatively few, like sligh, who expired on the field of honor, but men who died in lonely sufferag way from their family and friends, displaced even from the edemptive flarative of mail -- narrative of male valor. they ended up in the lots because they happened to die
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nearby. in fact they died in one specific place, a building located less than two miles from the cemetery gates. during the war this was the u.s. military hospital in pittsburgh. a major collection point for men who came there were starting points across the union. and many, in fact, were born in europe and ireland, germany and elsewhere. their burial in the soldier lot was a matter of simple logistics, not personal choice or connection. after the war, this hospital was converted to a rest home for veterans with tuberculeose is and other diseases and for a number of years these were the mean -- men who filled the new graves in the sonallofment almost all the men had endured multiple displacements in life and delegate. what united them was not dying in defense of their country but the happenstance of having died alone and penniless in one
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particular spot. the original soldier lot in allegheny cemetery where these men were initially burr aide -- buried was in fact little more than a potters' feesmed it was located up in the so-called strangers' ground, where those without money or kin were put. this is a very recent fedorov -- photograph of the strangers' ground. most of that field you see is actually unmarked grafmentse i have no photographic documentation of the strangers' ground in the 19th century so i don't know where -- exactly where the soldiers were buried or how it 4r507k9 but this is not the original lot. the true origin story of the federal lot is a traumatic event that took place in a military camp just outside pittsburgh. a draft republican end zone vous, as they called it -- rend
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rendezvous, as they called it, of draftees who got caught in waves of disease at the camp due to terrible conditions and poor medical care. this is just the first page of a long death register from that camp from the first two months of that year. the men were hastily buried in a field outside the camp just as they would have been after a battle the four years later, the army, in response to its national mandate, retrieved the remains, identified them as they do -- could, and reburied them in allegheny cemetery. not, however, in the original soldiers lot up in the strangers' ground, but in a second brand-new lot down in the flats p, the one we see
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today. in 1864 the government decided to combine the two lots into one, digging up the graves that were scattered -- scateard round the cemetery and p reburying them all in a new area with a new number system in the final lofment the final displacement of dead in what was for most of them a long history of those. yet this new lot was by no means the way it looks today. again, i have image here to show you because the imagery doesn't survive. to begin with, the graves were unidentified when the second lot was first made. they were simply mounds of dirt and gravel, unmarked except for wooden headboards, bearing only a number, not a name. initially the visiting public assumed that the men buried
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there were unknown dead. imagine the surprise then, sometime flaps the early 1880's, when some 200 marble gravestones suddenly appeared, all but nine of them with names. in a single stroke, the gravestones gave almost 200 men individual identities as well as a collective identity because the gravestones created a highly visible organization for them. we don't know exactly what that looked like in its original form. we do know that the lot sometimes suffered from poor maintenance and that the headstones were not as uniform as they are today. as you can see from this 1934 photograph, the slight differences from -- in size and shape of some headstones as this one here do change the overall effect significantly even as the men acquired nominal identities, however, we may well wonder what those vinl
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names signified. what use is a name on a gravestone when no one coming to the cemetery recognizes it? it may as well be unknown. in some cases we know families were looking for the men. but the names on the headstones were simply wrong. incorrectly transcribed from previous headboards or death registers as thomas sligh's name had been. a. -- e.z. hall, for instance, bays e.z. heal -- hale on grave number 154. until a descendant, threor -- three or four years ago, discovered the missed transcription and tremendous -- restored his family name. you see with the newer issue headstone here. hall's story is one of the strange netcht the soldier lot and one of the very few who
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demide combat. he was a volunteer from michigan who died in 1864. his remains were sent home by train from a military hospital in washington, d.c. the train in those days to michigan made a stop in pittsburgh and there the passengers re -- demanded that his decomposing 3w0eud be removed from the car. the railroad company delivered the corpse and what little information it had to the allegheny cemetery where e.s. hall in effect died a second death from the misplacement of his body and of his name. this meant nobody knew where these names were. they were mere placeholders in a military organization with no other information, simply generic con scripts in an army
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of the dead. some of them. zheaped fate, however. in about a dozen cases, when there were kinfolk who knew the men, they pulled them out of the soldier lot and had them reburied in their own local cemeteries. the grand army of the republic, as we have seen, created its own separate soldier lot with its own corporate identity. it followed exactly the same design principles of the federal lot but shifted the orientation of its rows to make the did i teektion -- dis tincting visible. are are are for many years while the organization was in its heyday, the lot was more tightly organized and maintain an the government lot. the nen the g.a.r. lot chose to be there and their makeup was different than the other in one
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key respect, almost 20% of them came from the u.s. colored troops, whereas in the government lot, to the best of my knowledge, not a single civil war soldier was african-american. i don't know -- don't know exactly why that is the case but i suspect that there is segregation at work. there is only one way to know this, though, to know the identities of these men or to come to know anything significant about the names in the federal sonal lot and that was through the metadata left off the gravestones and buried in the archives of the cemetery in its registers. i have excellent -- spent a long time, as you probably can tell, in these internment registers. it's all on microfilm. the history from below i've been trying to reconstruct is also a history from the back office. clerks in that back office, working from daily reports by the foremen, entered each body
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into a huge register book as the bodies came into the cemetery andsigned each entry a unique number in one long sequence starting with number one for the very first body buried in the cemetery in 1845. it took me a while to realize that this internment register was exactly like a museum accession list where the objects accessions were people's bodies. ironically, y -- no sump accesses lists exist for the valuable objects above the ground, the grave stones. they simply aren't documented. the doids -- bodies, by contrast, are documented to an extraordinary degree. the cemetery is very protective for some understandable reasons
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about the information in the internment register so they did very exiped -- kindly give me this little slice of one of the entries. actually the very first civil war soldier buried in the soldier lot, the original one that was up in the strangers' ground. the internment number given to each body was keyed to a whole series of metadata fields about the identity and history of the person, including, for example, place of birth, cause of death nd beginning in the 19-tens, a field for the color. through these fields the outlivense a biography can begin to appear. it was this unique identifying number, the internment number, or in database lingo, the primary key, that was put on the original wooden headboards that first marked the graves in
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the soldier lot. when the headboards were replaced years later by the headstones, the federal authorities put names on the stones, but also got rid of the cemetery's internmept numbers and put their own numbers on the stones, thereby reinforcing the separate status of the lot within the larger cemetery. here again, the metadata we choose to display and the pate mate we choose to conceal tell their own story. -- metadata we choose to conceal tell their own story. the he name to stay alive, mate -- data is not enough. when the personal recollections of the people who knew that person are gone, the recorded metadata tanges -- take the place of memory the in the g.a.r. lot the individual names have died because the
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organizational superstructure defining them has died. the names in the federal lot live not because we know anything about them but because they're attached to a huge, visually compelling structure of interpretation which has become in effect their new metadata. this superstrurks as i have been arguing, defines each of them as one of a national collective willing to fight and die in any war or cause the nation decides much the actual texture of their lives and deaths, motivations and hopes, has no place in this jore arching structure of metadata. my talk has been about one response to the war's crisis and the campaign to attach names to bodies. i will conclude this evening by talking very briefly about the other side of the story, the
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deliberate detachment of names from bodies and their reattachment to public memorials that became in effect monumental archives of names. this process worked to transform the confused mass of names referred to in the "new york times" originally seep by the public in wartime newspapers into well-ordered, elegant lists in bronze and stone on memorials in town greens, courthouse squares, and historic battlefields, while the bodies themselves were scattered and even lost. the names were concentrated in one place, one focal point for the community that recognized those names. initially those were local communities greerving over their sons, fathers, husbands, of lying in unmarked graves far from home. the monuments in the 18 off's, 1870's and even into the 189 -- 1808's, were often simply
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shafts and obelisks, a standardized form just enough to collect the names and give them a civic presence. over time, as veterans' groups became more organized and powerful, they began to take over this project and expand and system ives it. veterans posts or their women's afill yarktse began to sponsor hol monuments and do the work of com peiing the -- and vetting the names. the lists swelled to include not only war dead but survivors wsm as the war generation veterans goon die off, this process became more urgent and ambitious, especially in my home state of pennsylvania wherever-larger groups of names drive -- drove ever-larger building projects. in the early 20th century, 20,000 names on a county monument in pittsburgh, just a few blocks from my office.
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34,000 names on a state-level monument in gettysberg, the pennsylvania memorial. at the time these were the largest monumental lists of names anywhere in the world. they involved the conspicuous front end worg of building and decorating the monument but equally important, the much more hidden back end work of cock pyling the right names, filtering out the deserters and dishonorably discharged, sorting those left into their regiments and alphabetized lists. it was painstaking work that the veterans either did them selves or were helped with because the record keeping were still destroll -- decentralized. the names had once again been put back into place, not typically the place of burial or death or even residence in
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life. it was a civic place, as much abstract as real, where the names settled into alphabetical order in their old military units which would now deinfiniti men for all time by the few weeks, months, or years they spent as soldiers -- soldiers. the vietnam veterans' memorial here in washington is the supreme example in the u.s. of a name-driven memorial where small bits of tebs on stone have acquired a near mystical presence that not even the soldiers' graves va. -- have. many ways, mya lin's format for the metadata reversed that for the public memorial. unlike the raised letters on the marble tombstones in allegheny or bronze plaques in pennsylvania, these names are cut below the surface of the
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granite, inviting a qualityatively different sensory engagement mple the panels are also sunk below ground, as if guiding down into a metaphorical grave. but rdering is not by unit on the date the person was wounded. where more than one fell on the ame date, the names are al fat -- alphabetized. thereby creating a history over time. the memorial endouffers -- endows it with a dual reality. they are immediate to us here and now but at the same time situated in a history of loss that unfolds day by day across the surface of the wall. recently i was struck anew by this strange tem orality when i
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came across a story of one particular photograph that appeared in my book, "monument wars." it caught the eye of one of the men in the picture when it was recently republished in a calendar. he wrote a letter saying he had taken a friend to see the wall and, as he put it, to visit a freventd the friend had been right next to him when he died on may 20, 1969, and had never gotten over what he call the unbearable weight of survivors' guilt. the photographer captures the precise moment of their encounter, the reunion. he couldn't speaker the all right recounts, he shrimp put his hand on jim's name engraved in the black granite and wept and i put my hand over his to
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acknowledge that he was not alone in his grief. n this simple, potent image of one hand over another over letters carved in stone, it becomes clear that the name ceases to be mere metadata and has trarmed -- transformed into something else, not the dead man himself or his ghost but what one writer called the technology of enchantment. the carved names read like text on top of the page but are literally dug beneath the surface. it is some -- this oscillation back and forth between worlds that creates the wall's magic, the feeling of a presence summoned from the past and entangled with us in 9 present. the latest turn in memorial practice is so -- to supplement
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the monument's list of names with a whole museum of objects and texts to personalize the game. oklahoma city has pioneered this approach and it's continued through the september memorials cksville and even reached the vietnam memorial with the plans to build a huge underground education center nearby. underligue all these projects is the fear that names alone will lose their potency, especially when the generation that knows them dies away. in the memorial museum paradigm, the names become metadata for virtual rell i can reliquari. faces -- emplet of memorabilia.
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we have a -- come a long way from the early days of the soldiers' cemetery the in the immediate aftermath of the civil war there was a desperate need to anchor names to bodies, to hold metadata together just to secure the identity of the dead. but once accomplished and made visible, every grave, every name posed a question. was this one death worth the cause that demanded it? by a combination of necessity d design, verb ule regimes emerged to organize the bodies and their data and to give an answer to that question. even though the nation made enormous efforts to get each body into an individual grarveing the cemetery's artistic presence and creation effectively erased the individual. the many complex cause of their deaths merged into a single,
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all-important national cause. the new memorial museum complexes seem as first glance to offer ever-expanding fields of information about the dead, yet their own metanarratives flatten the dead and their complex lives just as the soldier lot in allegheny flattened the ground on which the lot was about. in the end, they repeat the story of sacrifice and redemption, or as the vietnam veterans memorial fund explains on its web site, the timeless story of patriotism from bunker hill to baghdad. lin's wall does not track -- attack this narrative, as her critics once claimed, but does in fact resist it. the genius of her design was to take mere metadata, the names of the dead, and use it to open up an enchanted space for reflection, however tenuous
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that is. as her memorial acknowledges, we all have our own versions be patriotism. we hear them every day all around us. it is easy to impose them on the dead because they can't talk back. it is harder to open up the spaces of the dead to reckon honestly with their lives and aspirations. to honor the dead is to try to tell their story, not ours, as hard as that may be the at the deserve it. thanks. [applause] so i'm happy to take questions and i've been told to stay at the podium so my voice doesn't go in and out. i would love to walk around and
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interact with you a bit more but i'm going to stay here and 'm happy to field questions. >> yes? i believe we have a microphone coming. >> thank you for your presentation. i was interested in another kind of image detached from a body or name in many cases, like the hundreds of tintypes that were made of soldiers prior to death and then circulated widely and sent. who -- what would the role of something like that be in your system of metadata? >> well, that's a great question because of course that -- this is a time period when those fairly inexpensive technologies of portraiture
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were first becoming really commercially viable so that almost any soldier could get one, you know, who got his soldier pay. so we do in fact -- that's one reason i used the example of a photograph as an object, objects that often lose they are metadata and the people in the photograph become unknown. i had been thinking about that because you see so many. all you have to do is get on the library of congress web site and you will see hundreds of photographs go by and have no idea who these people are stripped y are both of their identities, but also typically buried away in archives. now we can see them, because of the internet, we can 150e -- see -- we now have a visibility for them that we didn't have before and that we only had in places like soldier cemeteries
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where we had, you know, highly visible, either unknown graves or known graves. so i think it's an important question and one which i should think about. you should think, i think brkts circulation. prartly it has to did with the circulation of the photographs in that particular time. we're dealing with a time when those freely circulate. i would be interested in being able to really learn more about the circulation of these images at the time that these cemeteries were being developed, the senior -- century, and what overlap, if any, there was between them. >> you discuss the vaufble remembering, and i'm struck by how much you want to recover and remember the lives of these soldiers.
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ut what's the as aristotle would say, are -- of forgetting? what -- he said there was virtue in forgetting the >> right. and we all have to forget, right? i mean -- so take the example of kenneth copeland. this was a terrible thing that happened there. it's been largey forgotten. it's not -- it's not known to local people in pittsburgh, not taught. it's something that i knew nothing about and stumbled across and we could say, well, maybe it's best -- better to just let that be and not remember it. but the problem with that as i true is that there is no forgetting because if we don't remember these individuals, then another kind of memory takes over for them. and they become co-opted by
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collective memories that, as i say, kind of con script them into a new narrative. so there's really -- really, the days of the kind of really abandoned -- abandon ment of these is really before the civil war when these bodies were lost and buried by the side of the road somewhere and nobody found them and, you now, there we have a much -- really a much clearer clace of oblivion happening. now, you talk to the family members and so on, i'm sure they were unhappy about that, or, you know, this happened, this was the case routinely for slaves and paupers and so on. sond -- and so now there is a uge effort to try to recover some trace of those populations
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that never were remembered who who so dishonored that they were thought to be seen just outside the sphere of memory. so it's hard because i don't think we can really gate way from it. in our personal lives there are always things we need to forget. i'm not sure the analogy extends to the nation. >> thank you for a really wonderful talk. and i guess my question is also somewhat about forgetting. i was curious about whether or ot you came cross examples for -- or groups, organizations, trying to rethink the question of decay, both of institutional decay, the fact that institutions disappear but also the fact that materials also as well decay.
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so if they were thinking about technologies of mass production of headstones, were they thinking about materials besides stone that wouldn't decay as well? >> yeah, that's a great question. so it's interesting that they worked initially with marble the let's just take the example of the material first and then we'll go to the institutional decay as well because both of these were issues that people certainly were aware of and saw coming. so with materials, you know, gravestones were carved on marble because the tools that were available for them, they -- for granite, they really didn't exist at that point, the pneumatic type tools that would become available later in the 19th century the you had an inherently fre fragile memorandum and they were veach
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ware of that and were concerned about the sandblasting process, and for good reason because the names did actually erode away. they didn't last that long. so the federal government has the resources, i mean they were aware of this problem early on adjusted by, you know, allowing for these, enabling replacement of these stones so that they are kept in some kind of sort of new condition all the time. nd whereas what's so interesting is that the other organizations like, you know, the grand army of the republic or even the counties at the level of the local governments, which sometimes supplied gravestones for soldiers, this happened a lot, grand army of the republic actually went on this major campaign in the late 19th century to get local governments to pay for gravestones for its veterans. so that was great. but the problem was that local
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government is never going to replace the gravestone. and you see what happened in the lot. they're just pushed down into the ground because this requires, the maintenance of memory shall it's a real maintenance, physical, logistical, financial process, economic process. so the g.a.r., you know, i'm not a specialist in the history of the g.a.r. but i can tell u that as the posts began to age, some of them began to ink about ways to make their memories permanent in some way. we have an example of that. the grand army of the republic posts were actually designed to outlive members of the posts. i hate to harp on purchase purchasing all the time but
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pittsburgh is an incredible place for stuff like this. there is an intact grand armive the republic post in pittsburgh with relics in it. it's unbelieveable. any of you who kuo to pittsburgh, yuff -- who go to pittsburgh, you've got to go to this place. but that's cunchede the exception. it's the same issue you face if you are getting old and thinking about dying. what are you going to leave your children? are you going to write your memories down? these are the kinds of issues, and most people just didn't get around to it and the stuff disappeared. >> maybe one more? mary? >> could there have been a considerable difference between what happened with the -- well, the situation of the g.a.r. and the con fed erasey and how they were buried? what's the responsibility, if
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any, that even the state governments or the federal governments take with them? >> there was a massive campaign on the confederate side. i didn't talk good as much because i'm really focused on the national,le federal stfment but the case of thomas sligh is the tip of is iceberg here. there were massive reoperateryations going on. charleston, the cemetery and in richmond the and other places where the bodies were collected. this was an effort that was done largely outside of the state structures, you know, largely done by these sokses. -- associations and largely by the ladies' morme -- memory a.m. sokses -- sokses but they were actively in the field trying to do a good job of it. then as the lost cause became more and more powerful and as the reinstruction --
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reconstruction governments in the south were overturned and white supremeacy re-established it sel, then they hay platform from which to actually -- they had a platform from which to actually lobity federal go. and toward the end 67b919th -- 19th century, right around the turn of the century, it was decided that confederate sonalds could get federal hed -- headstones as well. i think it was 1906 when that legislation was passed and 1907 is when we see those c.s.a. gravestones appearing in the union lot for that reason. and that was of course very, very controversial, especially among the g.a.r. the g.a.r. hated this idea. >> i feel we would keep you hee for a very long time. we should perhaps allow the questions to continue outside the


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